Russian missile attack kills civilians in Zaporizhia | International

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Hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin signs the annexation treaties for the occupied Ukrainian provinces of Zaporizhia, Kherson, Donetsk and Lugansk, Russian troops have struck again against civilian targets. At least 25 people have been killed and another 50 injured in a missile attack on a convoy of civilians in the Zaporizhia region of southern Ukraine, the country's Prosecutor General's Office has reported. The attack occurred at 7:15 a.m. local time (6:15 a.m. in mainland Spain), in an old vehicle sales market where dozens of civilian cars and vans were waiting to "leave the temporarily occupied territory, pick up their relatives and bring help”, confirmed through Telegram the governor of the province, Oleksandr Staruj.

The anti-aircraft alarms had not stopped sounding throughout the night, while numerous explosions were heard. Local anti-aircraft defenses tried to repel the impact of Russian missiles for hours, until three of them reached the dozens of vehicles waiting for a safe moment to resume their journey. A large crater several meters deep, fifteen meters from the cars, marks the site of the main explosion, the missile that apparently killed most of the people. “The occupiers launched 16 missiles in one morning against Zaporizhia and the surrounding district alone. Only complete terrorists who have no place in the civilized world can do such a thing,” Zelensky wrote on his Telegram account.

In the middle of the morning, the corpses, covered with blankets and plastic, had not yet been removed from the esplanade. At least a dozen victims still lay on the ground - on the blanket that covers one of them, surrounded by a large pool of blood, the number "17" can be read in black. Many other bodies were still inside the vehicles, some accompanied by their pets, also dead. People of different ages could be seen inside the cars, together with the packages they were carrying, both in the front and back seats.

“We were here, then something incomprehensible happened, everything went flying. We got out of the car and ran. I don't remember anything, I'm in shock”, relates Natalia, a survivor of the attack. "There are many dead. The car is nothing. The most important thing is that we have saved our lives,” she adds.

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At least thirty cars were damaged in the blast, with windows shattered and doors ripped out. The criminalistic police, military and members of the Prosecutor's Office against war crimes have traveled to the place to carry out the investigation. However, every so often the bombed area must be evacuated: anti-aircraft alarms continue to warn of another possible attack, forcing everyone to clear the area, including the few family members who come to recognize the bodies.

The esplanade attacked is a known area. The main road from the south ends at it, which runs along the Dnieper River, through which the flow of Ukrainian refugees usually arrives. Nearby is the shopping center whose car park houses a reception center with NGOs, humanitarian aid and Ukrainian authorities.

Zaporizhia is one of four provinces - in addition to Lugansk, Donetsk and Kherson - that have held illegal referendums this week on its annexation to Russia. Many civilians have fled these regions so as not to remain on Russian territory when the country's president, Vladimir Putin, signs the annexation treaties this Friday.

Russia denies the attack

The Russian administrator of the occupied region of Zaporizhia, Vladimir Rogov, has denied Russian authorship of the massacre and has blamed the attack on Ukrainian forces. “They have shot at a group of cars waiting to move to the liberated territory at the exit of Zaporizhia”, he has written in his account on Telegram.

“It is the classic Anglo-Saxon provocation against the disloyal civilian population”, added Rogov, who assures that the aggression “has been carried out according to the classic formula of 'they have shot at themselves', to accuse Russia afterwards. According to him, the attacked people “blocked the road two days ago asking to be allowed to go to liberated territories. [por Rusia]”.

Civilians killed after a Russian attack on a convoy in Zaporizhia (Ukraine).Photo: Luis de Vega | Video: Reuters | Luis de Vega

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